Veterinary charity PDSA awarded the prestigious Honorary Dickin Medal - recognised worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross - to heroic First World War war horse, Warrior at the Imperial War Museum today (Tuesday 2nd September) on behalf of all animals that served in that historic conflict.
Warrior was represented today by serving Army horse, Irish Draught Charger, Benjamin Buckram, from the modern day The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Woolwich. He was ridden by Captain Nick Watson, 27, from Sandringham, Norfolk, wearing Winter Service Dress, which is almost identical to the uniform worn by the Royal Artillery during the Great War.
“In the ceremonial saluting battery of The King’s Troop Royal Artillery we use exactly the same equipment as was used in the First World War so we know at first hand the challenges of maintaining horses and guns day after day. It must have been extraordinarily difficult to have endured the dreadful conditions of the First World War, and we’re grateful for all that the hundreds and thousands of horses did for us in the Royal Horse Artillery and continue to do” he said.
Dubbed ‘the horse the Germans could not kill’, Warrior arrived on the Western Front on 11 August 1914 with his owner General Jack Seely (who later became Lord Mottistone) and remained on the Front Line throughout World War I. He was subjected to machine gun attacks by air and survived falling shells at the Battle of the Somme. He was buried under debris and got stuck in the mud at Passchendaele, and was twice trapped under the burning beams of his stables. He was an inspiration to the soldiers as they faced their greatest fears in the battle against bayonets, bullets, gas and tanks. Warrior was a true survivor and his story epitomises the vital roles played by millions of animals.
Despite being injured several times Warrior survived and returned home to the Isle of Wight in 1918 where he lived with the Seely family until his death aged 33.
The medal was accepted today by writer and broadcaster, Brough Scott, grandson of Warrior’s rider, General Jack Seely.
Steven Spielberg – director of the Oscar-nominated film War Horse – said:
“Warrior is an extraordinary example of the resilience, strength, and profound contribution that horses made to the Great War. Recognising him with an Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal is a fitting and poignant tribute not only to this remarkable animal, but to all animals that served.”
Captain Nick Watson’s Grandfather served as a Padre in both the First and Second World Wars so his family connection is unusually close.
The PDSA Dickin Medal is recognised worldwide as the highest award any animal can achieve while serving in military conflict.
Picture: Crown Copyright 2014 / British Army / Sergeant Rupert Frere RLC (Phot)